6 Best Sustainable Gift Ideas for Your Environmentally-Conscious Friends

Last Update: December 20, 2019 at 1:27 pm

SOURCE:  Teen Vogue

DATE:   Dec. 20/19


6 Best Sustainable Gift Ideas for Your Environmentally-Conscious Friends


This holiday season, teen activists are rejecting the culture of consumerism in favor of homemade gifts and in-person activities.

This Christmas, young activists are asking Santa for climate action. Teens are showing their solidarity with the climate movement by rejecting the capitalistic culture of the holidays in favor of the true giving spirit of the season.

This economic strike was initially inspired by the boycotts that took place on Black Friday, one of the United States’ biggest shopping days of the year. The rapid growth of human consumption is stretching the boundaries of Earth’s ecological capacity and fueling the climate crisis. In 2018 alone, according to a report from Allianz Global Investors that calculated all of the reported goods and services consumed by the global population, we used 1.7 annums — what the planet can naturally restore in a year — of the earth’s biocapacity. Teen climate activists around the country conducted powerful demonstrations to amplify the urgency of this issue. For example, in New York City, young advocates from Extinction Rebellion NYC powerfully demonstrated their commitment to reducing their ecological footprint on Black Friday by boycotting the holiday through standing in lines at crowded stores with empty carts.


In their own homes, teens are also practicing their commitment to sustainability by transforming their customs of gift-giving. One of those transformations includes putting an eco-friendly spin on a traditional Christmas novelty. Eighteen-year-old Caroline Choi, the national outreach coordinator for Extinction Rebellion, spoke to Teen Vogue about making soy candles for her loved ones this year. “The soy wax is biodegradable and a renewable resource, [which takes] longer to burn than regular paraffin candles. Because these are DIY, you have a lot of space for artistic creativity,” she says. On a weekly basis, Caroline works to build partnerships among adult allies for the youth climate movement, and during the holidays, she enjoys continuing her activism through art. For Caroline, not only is this personalized gift greatly appreciated by her family members, but it’s also a sustainable alternative to a regular candle, which can omit a lot of soot while burning. (Soot has a lot of negative effects on the environment, causing haze and the acidification of lakes and rivers.


Teens are also using recycled materials to minimize their waste while creating gifts. Sophia Kianni, 17, who works on the national team for Fridays for Future USA and is a partnership coordinator for This Is Zero Hour, reuses and redesigns old shirts to make new custom clothing. The McLean, Virginia, native says a TikTok tutorial inspired her to cut up shirts to make bandeaus and bandanas. “I thought it was important to create gifts out of what I had instead of supporting unnecessary consumption, which is an enormous problem,” she tells Teen Vogue. Sophia is one of the many youth climate activists who organized a strike on Black Friday, encouraging teens to boycott shopping and strike against our country’s culture of consumerism. Gowri Abhinanda, a 16-year-old climate and gun reform activist from Weston, Florida, reuses aluminum cans to craft cookie cutters. Instead of throwing away traditional soda cans, she cuts them into various sizes to make gifts for baking enthusiasts. Gowri hopes that through this gift-giving, she helps model a culture of sharing and reusability, she tells Teen Vogue. “Once the recipient has used the cookie cutters, they can recycle or re-gift it if they don’t need it anymore,” she says.


Another way teen climate activists are tackling the consumer culture of the holidays by giving experiences instead of gifts. My 16-year-old sister Aneesha Nayak works as a leader in the Girls for Science Environmental Organization, a media platform dedicated to amplifying the climate emergency through a gendered lens. She organizes fun events with our family as opposed to buying material gifts. “For me, spending an hour to plan a family picnic [rather] than spending five minutes to order an expensive gadget online is much more valuable. Not only is it better for the environment, but family members will greatly cherish memories spent than the purchase of a gadget,” she tells Teen Vogue.


Other teen climate activists are taking advantage of the downtime over the holidays to encourage their family and friends to donate or volunteer in the fight for environmental justice. Tehontsiiohsta Meadow Cook, a 17-year-old Indigenous activist with Earth Uprising, believes that some of the best gifts involve giving back to planet Earth. She likes to gift plants and seeds to her family members, encouraging them to physically connect with nature by planting new trees. She also pushes her loved ones to intervene directly in the fight for climate justice. “I encourage my family members to participate in the strikes for Indigenous stewardship and donate to Indigenous-led climate organizations,” she tells Teen Vogue. Through this effort, Tehontsiiohsta Meadow says she is carrying forth the legacy of her ancestors who have been environmentalists and protectors of their land for years. She hopes that the holidays will be a time for her to foster this dialogue among friends and family, and contribute to a culture where sustainability is practiced.


As Gowri put it: “Taking small steps to be sustainable during the holidays can not only have an impact on the environment, but also on the culture. By boycotting consumerism and creating handmade gifts, we are contributing to a cleaner and greener future.”




FULL STORY:   https://www.teenvogue.com/story/sustainable-gift-ideas-2019